A powerful 6.8-magnitude earthquake hit southwest Pakistan on Saturday, killing at least 22 people in a region already devastated by a tremor which left more than 300 people dead this week, local officials said.
“The death toll is increasing. Rescue workers have so far recovered 22 dead bodies,” Hari Fal, the top government official in Khuzdar town said, adding that more than 50 people have been wounded.
Officials fear the toll in Saturday’s quake in Awaran, the poorest district in the southwest province of Baluchistan, could still rise further. The new quake struck the remote district at a depth of 14 kilometres at 12:34 pm (0734 GMT) according to the US Geological Survey (USGS).
Although USGS said it was an aftershock of the Tuesday 7.7-magnitude quake, an official at the National Seismic Centre of Pakistan classified it as a new earthquake. “It was not an aftershock, it was an independent earthquake,” Zahid Rafi, the centre’s director, told Geo TV.
Awaran was shattered by the 7.7-magnitude quake on Tuesday which left 359 dead and more than 100,000 people homeless.
Relief efforts have at times been thwarted by insurgent attacks on rescue convoys, with local officials admitting that teams have been unable to reach thousands of survivors in the worst-hit areas. “This new earthquake destroyed all that remains of the first quake, two villages destroyed completely,” said Abdul Malik, provincial chief minister of Baluchistan.